The doctrine of employment-at-will gives the employer all the rights to hire and fire their employees at any moment. The employer has the absolute power to dictate the terms of contract between them and the worker. This rule was established in 1884. Its basic tenet is that an employee has no interest in the operations of a firm since their obligation is constrained to provision of labor and nothing else (Summers, 2000). However, this tenet is only applicable to America. In Germany, for instance, an employer is an active component of the companys mission. Since inception, the doctrine has seen many alterations aimed at protecting an employee from his employers totalitarianism. It has been amended by various supreme and district courts to give the employee a right to sue the employer consequent to unfair dismissal. Fundamentally, an employee can sue their bosses on the basis of a tort rather than on the principles of contract (Summers, 2000). In this manner, the court can grant the worker compensation for both physical and emotional distress encountered. The law protects employees who have been dismissed for serving in a jury, those fired for resisting workplace harassment, and those sacked for declining to undertake non-ethical activities (Summers, 2000). Moreover, all employees who have been given a work handbook that states their rights under the company law are immune to subjection under this doctrine.
Under conventional company laws and regulations, Ellen has every reason to complain about workplace promotions that do not happen to anybody below the level of a director. She, however, does not have a right to make derogatory statements on her employers. It may be true that the managers and other top officials in the company do not have the capabilities matching their respective positions, but she should respect them as her employers. According to employment-at-will doctrine, the chief operations officer (COO) can fire Ellen on the grounds of gross misconduct. Regarding whistleblowing about lack of employee bonuses, the chief employment officer should consult with the companys stipulated policy on the same. However, as the chief operations manager discovers, the company does not have a whistleblowers policy. Therefore, its his discretion as a manager to decide the best punitive action to take against Ellen. Under the employment-at-will principle, the operations manager can fire Ellen without any risk of litigation. He should first investigate Ellens misconduct and document it. Ellens blog should be earmarked for evidence against her in case she proceeds to court. If Ellen is fired for running a defamatory blog, she might sue the company for dismissal on unfair grounds. If the company has a workers contractual document that excuses her from dismissal on such grounds, the employment-at-will doctrine will not hold in court, and her employer must prove that her misconduct is not exempt from punishment under the companys handbook. In any case, the chief operations officer can relieve Ellen of her duties in the company, since the employer-at-will doctrine allows him to do so. Firing Ellen will incur the company two liabilities: it will reduce the number of staff needed to cover the anticipated high workload in the near future as well risking loss of money in legal fees
The case of Joe has far reaching implications to the trust that customers have in the company. Employment-at-will provides employers will the freedom of terminating the contact of employees whose conduct is not in line with the mission of the company. Obviously, continued customer support is the driver of the companys business. Any threat to this support is destructive of the market advances of the business. To ensure that customer confidence and trust is withheld, the primary action that the chief operations manager ought to take is identifying all the instances in which Joe has mistreated a customer. Perhaps this incidence is one among many that have gone undiscovered. There may be other disgruntled customers out there that Joe may have insulted. These customers may have decided to terminate their contract with the company. Therefore, sacking Joe will not bring these customers back. In fact, it will put the company in a risk of legal battle which will tarnish its public image. The best action, therefore, to take in this matter is to settle the differences between the companys administration and Joe. In this manner, the number of customers insulted by Joe will be identified, and reconciliatory measures will be started to restore harmony between them and the company. After that, the company can go public with a positive image and a satisfied clientele. Nevertheless, the company has the power to fire Joe immediately after his misconduct is discovered. This option will be determined by the contractual agreement that the company made with Joes regarding privacy. If intrusion of Joes privacy is allowed under the agreement, the company can proceed and sack Joe. On the other hand, if the company has no right to enter its employees private space, it will be risking litigation and consequential loss of compensation money.
Among the major exceptions of employment at will is dismissal on the basis of serving in a jury (Allen, 2001). The employer cannot invoke this doctrine if they fire an employee for sitting in a jury. However, the companys internal regulations must be considered in making this decision. I think that every employee must have permission to have a day off for whichever reason, including serving in a jury. The employer must, in this case, demonstrate good faith and provide reasonable claim for denying an employee a chance of serving in a jury. Anna should, therefore, sue the company if she feels that there no reasonable grounds for denying her permission to perform her civic duties. She should document any evidence showing that she followed the due procedure before taking a day off. The primary action that the COO will take in this case is reviewing the cause of his dismissal claims and to find reasonable grounds to fire Anna. If he is contended that his reasons are admissible in the court of law, he should proceed to fire Ann and prepare for a legal battle.
When Microsoft laid off 18000 former Nokia workers in 2015, there was global outcry against this move. However, Microsoft was the employer and it rightfully felt that their services were no longer required in the company, and, therefore, decided to fire them. Microsoft did not risk any legal tussle because there was a will and a reason to sack the 1800 workers.
Allen, L. (2001). The employment-at-will doctrine: three major exceptions. Monthly Labor Review, 3.Scott, M. (2015). After Nokia Layoffs, Tech Workers in Finland Regroup and Refocus. New York Times
Summers, C. W. (2000). Employment at will in the United States: The divine right of employers. U. Pa. J. Lab. & Emp. L., 3, 65.
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